What Is A Survey And Do You Need One? - Denver Lifestyle and Real Estate by Libby Levinson

What Is A Survey And Do You Need One?

What Is A Survey And Do You Need One?

Defining the 3 Different Types of Surveys You Might Need When Purchasing a Home

There are 3 different types of surveys you might need during your home buying process: the ILC, LSP, and ISP. You might be wondering what these are and what they stand for, and I’m excited to provide this information for you. I strive to ensure the home buying process is as smooth and as pleasant as possible, which happens by preparing my clients for what they might need in advance.

ILC: Improvement Location Certificate

The ILC is the most common survey used during residential transactions. This survey locates/finds any issues with the property, specifically encroachments. It is the most requested by survey by title agencies when buying/selling a home. The sole purpose and intention of an ILC is NOT to determine the exact legal limits of the property, but to serve as an inspection to disclose any adverse legal matters from a land surveying perspective (encroachments).

Additionally, it does state on the ILC itself, that this survey can “not be relied upon for the establishment of fence, building or other future improvement lines.” The ILC will show on paper, the property boundaries, the house and any permanent structures on the property (driveway, walk ways, pools, sheds, garages) and the dimensions of the house. If utility easements are called out on the title work and in the plat, they will be listed too. Property measurements are rounded +/- to the nearest foot.

The ILC is received electronically signed, stamped and dated. An ILC will not hold up in a court of law over any property disputes. Legally, an ILC can be off by up to 6’’ in either direction of legal property line. The further out the surveyor has to look for control (range boxes, set property corners, sidewalk crosses, etc.) the less accurate an ILC can be. Sometimes this control is found across the street on a neighbor’s property, sometimes down the street and around the corner. Sometimes in a busy intersection (range box).

LSP: Land Survey Plat, PIN, or Boundary Survey

This survey shows the property boundary and any permanent structure that is within 2″ of the property line (structures are not detailed out). The LSP does not show structures on the property. Additionally, if no property corners are found, they will be “set” on a second visit to the property. This will occur by driving a 2 foot piece of rebar into the ground and setting it with a cap with the surveyor’s ID #.

ISP: Improvement Survey Plat

An ISP is ordered to make any additions or improvements to the property. This survey is almost always required everywhere in the county, or in some cases, the city, in order to receive a building permit. This will show the house, with dimensions, and all permanent structures, which include: driveways, sheds, walkways, patios, walls, fences and all visible utilities (meter boxes, overhead power lines) and the property lines. If no property corners are located during the initial survey, the corners will be set on a return visit to the property. A 2″ piece of rebar is driven into the ground and set with a cap showing the surveyor’s ID #. This survey is filed with the county in which the property is located. Additionally, an ISP can be used in a court of law for property disputes.

Do you have more questions about Survey Definitions or Denver’s Real Estate Market? Contact me! I look forward to hearing from you! 

Data Source: Columbine Surveying Inc. 

Featured Image by Jessica Knauf Design


Libby Levinson is a born and raised Denver native who has spent time in all of Denver’s historic neighborhoods as well as the numerous suburbs surrounding the metro area. She enjoys sharing her knowledge of Denver and her love for the Mile High City with her clients. Libby proudly joined Kentwood Real Estate in 2006. Libby has had the pleasure of helping a variety of clients navigate their real estate transactions: helping first time buyers find their starter home, coordinating the synchronized sale and purchase for buyers looking for more space, sellers looking to down-size, and assisting sophisticated investors with their next investment opportunity. Libby is known for her ability to smoothly facilitate the complex details of both the buying and selling process. You can see Libby featured in 5280 Magazine and the 2017 Kentwood television commercial on her website at www.LibbySellsDenver.com.